Turns out we were wrong when we said the Icon Field Armor Stryker was the first widely-available, mass-market use of d3o armor in motorcycle gear. Klim got in touch to tell us they’ve been using it for a while in their Adventure Rally jacket and pants. That suit is almost ridiculous in the amount of technology it employs to keep you safe, comfortable and dry. d3o is just the beginning and the suit’s been updated for 2011. And you laughed at all the gear I wore through Labrador.
The big challenge for adventure touring gear is that it needs to work in a huge variety of conditions and be all-day comfortable both while cruising on the highway and for stand-on-the-pegs off-roading. It needs to do that while providing very high levels of protection; crashing a big, heavy, fast bike hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital or in a third world country is no joke.
You saw that for Expedition: Labrador we assembled a hodge-podge of gear in order to equip ourselves for 95 degree traffic jams in the Massachusetts to the potential of sub-freezing temperatures and snow in northern Canada. I ended up wearing motocross armor under a waterproof Alpinestars shell along with motocross boots, a camelbak and plenty of other bits and pieces. It worked — I survived a big crash and was comfortable in every weather condition we encountered — but It was a total pain in the ass to take off and put on and I looked like a freak on the rare occasions we were around other people. This Klim gear should do all of the above, just with added convenience, ease-of-use and quality.
The shell of the Adventure Rally suit is made from a variety of abrasion and tear-resistant fabrics, all laminated with a Gore-Tex membrane. That process is called Pro Shell and it leaves bonds the outer shell to the membrane so no gap is left. This means water ingress is stopped at the suit’s outer layer, not it to soak through the material. The benefits are that the material won’t soak up water getting heavy and soggy and that water won’t get a path to penetrate into other layers of clothing, like down your sleeves and into gloves.
Further waterproofness is added by the Gore-Tex Lockout “zippers”, which aren’t actually zippers at all, but instead a heavy rubber material which more closely resembles the mechanism of a Zip-Loc bag than it does the metal teeth you’re used to. As such, they’re fully waterproof too.
Inside all that waterproofness is a load bearing harness similar to those used by the military and law enforcement. It supports a rear pocket for a 3-liter hydrapak and four front pockets that offer 5,000 cubic centimeters of storage.
Klim claims the Adventure Rally jacket is the only one to fully waterproof neck brace integration. The collar is designed to accept a Leatt-style brace while a Gore-Tex flap and a variety of closures will keep the water out.
That neck brace isn’t included, but a full complement of d3o armor is located in the back, shoulder, elbows hips and knees. d30 is a polymer whose molecules lock together on impact, turning it from soft, thin and malleable into something stiff, which can absorb and deflect impact energy. The big advance here is comfort. Hard, inflexible plastic armor can reduce limb articulation and chafe. With d3o, you won’t know you’re wearing it till you fall off and don’t get hurt.
For 2011, the jacket receives a new, lower collar with an added fleece lining; adjustable armor locations for the elbows; improved 2nd gen Lockout closures and a slimmer fit through the shoulders. The pants are claimed to be more flexible, now incorporate suspender attachment points and the knee armor can be repositioned too.
The only fly in Klim’s ointment is that all these fancy materials, clever solutions and quality construction cost. The Adventure Rally jacket comes in at $1,300 while the pants are $850.